JAKARTA: Three Indonesian football players of different faiths created a political statement without words demonstrating religious diversity and inclusion after a unique goal celebration.
Bali United’s Muslim striker Miftahul Hamdi, Christian forward Yabes Roni, and Hindu defender Ngurah Nanak lined up in a row to celebrate Yabes’s second goal of the team’s 3-0 win last month against Borneo FC by demonstrating the three religion’s prayer positions.
A photo of the celebration taken by photographer Miftahuddin Halim and posted to the team’s Facebook page on Sunday went viral worldwide.
“Because different beliefs will not prevent us from achieving the same goals,” the photo’s caption reads.
The photo has come become symbolic of what a more peaceful world would look like, and come at a important time in Indonesia as the rise of less tolerant political factions threaten the country’s moderate government.
Bali United players celebrated the team’s goals by demonstrating that people of different religions not only can work together but genuinely get along.
“Even though we all come from different religions and ethnicities, we’re all one, “Yabes told Indonesia’s Kompas.com. “We have to protect the country’s harmony and stay united.”
The photographer Halim said that he was “glad that photo serves as an example for people. Soccer can unite the country.”
This may be the first time three players of different religions have celebrated a goal together in prayer, but individual religious goal celebrations are not new and players of all faiths are known to thank a higher power after scoring during the game.
FIFA is receptive to such celebrations as long as players do not extend their religious celebrations beyond gesturing. FIFA’s rule book draws the line when players display any political, religious or personal slogans on signs, undershirts or other equipment during the game.
Neither FIFA nor Indonesian football governing body has commented on the Bali United celebration.